Baylor Creek Reservoir - 2003 Survey Report
Prepared by Charles Munger and Jason Henegar
Inland Fisheries Division
District 1-A, Canyon, Texas
This is the authors' summary from a 22-page report. For a copy of the complete report, use the download link in the sidebar.
Baylor Creek Reservoir was surveyed with electrofishing and trap nets in 2003 and gill nets in 2004. This report summarizes the results of those surveys and contains a management plan for the reservoir based on those findings.
Baylor Creek Reservoir is a 600-acre impoundment constructed in 1950 on Baylor Creek, a tributary of the Red River, located 9 miles west of Childress, Texas. Baylor Reservoir is owned by the City of Childress and maintained for recreation. The reservoir was completely renovated in 1969 to eradicate a stunted white crappie population. In spring 2003 and again in spring 2004, Baylor Creek Reservoir experienced fish kills caused by a bloom of Prymnesium parvum. Both fish kills appeared to be relatively mild with <1,000 dead fish counted per event. Conductivity of the water has increased from an average of 1,150 in the 1980’s to over 4,000 in the 2000’s. At the time of sampling, the habitat was primarily flooded woody terrestrial vegetation. There are minimal handicap specific facilities.
- Prey species: Electrofishing catch rates for gizzard shad and bluegills were 54/h and 1/h, respectively. The gizzard shad catch rate was lower than the 2001 catch rate of 101/h and less than half the 4-sample average catch rate of 138/h. The index of vulnerability for gizzard shad was 33, indicating relatively low availability to existing predators and was similar to previous samples. From 1990 to 1996, the electrofishing catch rate of bluegills averaged 300/h (Munger 1997), then declined to 104/h in 1999, 17/h in 2001 and to 1/h in 2003. Size structure of the bluegill population is also declining. From 1990 to 1996, it was not unusual to collect 7- or 8-inch bluegill. None of these larger bluegills have been sampled from 1999 to present.
- Channel catfish: No channel catfish were collected in gill net samples in 2004 due to an ongoing P. parvum bloom during the sampling period. The occurrence of the bloom may have resulted in behavior that reduced catchability of this species. Channel catfish did survive the toxic bloom as anecdotal information indicates this fishery was the first to recover following the bloom. The 4-sample average catch rate for channel catfish was 3.3/net night. Condition of channel catfish less than 20 inches was poor. Growth was good in 1999 as fish reached legal size before age 3.
- Largemouth bass: Electrofishing catch rate for largemouth bass was 41/h for 2003, similar to previous samples. Growth rates were good as fish reached legal size by age 2. Condition of the largest largemouth bass in the population has declined since 2001. The P. parvum bloom may be a cause of this decline due to reduced availability of summer forage and reduced foraging ability because of toxin avoidance behavior. Electrophoresis in 2001 indicated a 28% frequency of Florida largemouth bass alleles with 5% of the population having Florida largemouth bass genotypes.
- Crappie: Trap net catch rate for white crappie was 1.0/NN and was much lower than previous samples. Growth rates could not be determined as only 5 fish were collected. Average condition has increased from the low 90’s in 1999 and 2000 to 110 for the 2 12-inch fish collected in 2003. The trap net catch rate for black crappie increased from 1.0/NN in 2000 to 4.2/NN in 2003 and was the highest ever recorded. Black crappie growth rates were good as fish reached legal size by age 2. Average condition of the black crappie population seems to have improved from the low 80’s in 1999 and 2000 to 92 in 2003. It is interesting to note that prior to the P. parvum bloom, white crappie have always been the dominant species in trap net samples. After the bloom, black crappie were dominant in samples.
Based on current information, the reservoir should continue to be managed with existing regulations. Conductivity in Baylor Creek Reservoir has increased from about 1,100 μS/cm in the 1980’s to 4,890 μS/cm in 2004. Total electrofishing catch rate and catch rate of young-of the-year largemouth bass have been declining since 1993. The catch rate of bluegill has also declined in the past five years. Bluegill catch rates prior to 1999 were all higher than 270/h. Catch rates since 2001 have been less than 20/h. We are currently investigating salinity in Baylor Reservoir and the impact it has on centrarchid populations. If salinity levels are negatively impacting largemouth bass and bluegill reproduction, supplemental stocking will be required.
Performance Report as required by Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration Act Texas Federal Aid Project F-30-R-29 Statewide Freshwater Fisheries Monitoring and Management Program